MSU President's Newspaper Column

December 18, 2021

Committed to serving the needs of families and children

Mayville State University serves as a Head Start grantee. We are among 14 such grantees across the state of North Dakota and many others nationwide. Head Start promotes the school readiness of young children from low income families by enhancing their cognitive, social, and emotional development.

Head Start and Early Head Start programs support the comprehensive development of children from birth to age 5, in centers, child care partner locations, and in their own homes, in a variety of ways. Teachers facilitate individualized learning experiences to promote children’s readiness for school and beyond. Through planned and spontaneous instruction, relationships with adults, and play, children grow in language and literacy, early math and science concepts, and social and emotional development. Children receive health and development screenings, nutritious meals, oral health and mental health support. Programs connect families with medical, dental, and mental health services, and ensure that children are receiving the services they need. Parents and families are supported in achieving their own goals, such as housing stability, continued education, and financial security. Programs support and strengthen parent-child relationships and engage families around children’s learning and development.

It is our privilege at Mayville State University to play a part in impacting the lives of the children and families in our area in such a positive way. The Head Start program functions under the umbrella of Child Development Programs (CDP) at Mayville State. The benefits of the work of the CDP are a win-win situation. Not only are the families of our area getting valuable educational child care services, the Mayville State site provides internship, employment, and learning opportunities for Mayville State students.

Since the Head Start program is federally-funded, it is subject to the recent federal mandate that requires all employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 31, 2022. We know that things can change with regard to the guidelines and mandates, but we need to be prepared to comply with the mandate if it does indeed come to pass.

Communication with CDP employees regarding vaccination mandates began after the head of the Office of Head Start, Dr. Bernadine Futrell, recommended preparation for possible mandates. Staff were made aware of pending requirements and they were surveyed to gauge interest in the desire to be vaccinated. As with all of society, there are individuals who are in favor of vaccinations and others who are not in favor of vaccinations. This is an evolving situation. Employees continue to make decisions on whether to vaccinate or not to vaccinate on an ongoing basis.

It's too early to predict what the exact impact of the vaccine mandate will be on the CDP centers. We’re still in the planning stages and working hard to maintain existing sites for children and families, as well as for employees.

Should there be a need for moving children from one site to another, CDP officials are committed to keeping families and personnel in their current community areas. Mayville State CDP operates Head Start sites in Mayville, Portland, Hillsboro, Buxton, and Grand Forks. We also partner with the YMCA in Fargo.

The COVID-19 vaccination federal mandate is impacting all Head Start agencies in North Dakota and across the country. Being one of 14 Head Start grantees in the state of North Dakota, Mayville State is working to ensure its continued support for children and families who rely on these services. Mayville State’s CDP management team is devoting a great deal of their time and effort to fielding questions from families and employees alike. We know they are committed to providing the services to which families have become accustomed. They are guided by their commitment to personal service as the issues unfold, with the goal of the best possible solutions for all. We thank our Child Development Programs employees for all they do in caring for the one of the things we deem most precious … our children.